For reasons of governmentality: A genealogy of dividing practices in Queensland schooling

Meadmore, Daphne Anne (1993). For reasons of governmentality: A genealogy of dividing practices in Queensland schooling PhD Thesis, Graduate School of Education, The University of Queensland.

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Author Meadmore, Daphne Anne
Thesis Title For reasons of governmentality: A genealogy of dividing practices in Queensland schooling
School, Centre or Institute Graduate School of Education
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1993
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Total pages 320
Language eng
Subjects 13 Education
Formatted abstract
This is a study of governmentality in state education in Queensland, Australia. In that context it presents a genealogy of the "examination" as a "history of the present". The point of departure is the present "problem" of selection at tertiary entrance. The study seeks to understand how assessment and selection in education have come to be viewed in particular ways. Drawing on the work of Foucault and his co-workers, it explicates a range of "dividing practices" including the State Scholarship Examination, several psychological testing programs, the "October Tests" and the current competency-based Performance Standards. These practices are shown to be technologies of the human sciences deployed for reasons of government. They are also shown to produce "scholastic identity" on an individual basis. Given that psychology and pedagogy can be viewed as human sciences, the shaping of pedagogy by the "psychological complex" is also examined for its effects on the production of the child as citizen.

Taking account of the Foucaultian stress on discontinuity, the time frames in which the study is located vary according to the particular practice under analysis. Thus for the State Scholarship Examination, the focus is on the final period from 1945 to 1964. The end of the Second World War was accompanied by a change in the way education was perceived while by 1964 the Scholarship Examination had been abolished and universal entry to secondary education was in place. However, the genealogical line of descent also necessitates attention to earlier discontinuities from its emergence in the second half of the nineteenth century. Psychological testing in Queensland calls for a time allocation based on different discontinuities. The piecemeal emergence of testing for selection purposes in the 1920s and the discontinuity of a large scale standardised testing program in 1991 mark limits for this aspect of the study. Special consideration is given to the period from 1948 to 1963 as this marked the time from when the psychological complex was formally institutionalised to when it informed the policy and the administration of the "October Tests". In the case of the Performance Standards, a testing program which is part of an initiative for national testing based on competencies, the time element is centred on the present.

Sources such as the Queensland Teachers' Journal (1940-1970), the Australian Journal of Education (1957-1963) were useful as were "magisterial" texts such as the Education Office Gazette (1940-1993), the reports to parliament (Report of the Secretary for Public Instruction (1923-1955), Report of the Minister for Education and Migration (1956-1962), and Report of the Minister for Education (1963-1993). The Queensland Department of Education, Education Act and Regulations (1934) which applied to the period 1945-1964 has also been accessed. In addition some recent recollections of teachers and students as well as newspaper articles have been used.

The form of the thesis is as follows: Chapter 1 defines and explains the task and sets the study in its theoretical framework. In the light of Foucault's ideas on historiography, it justifies the choice of topic, theory and methodology. It introduces crucial concepts such as "government", "governmentality", "power/knowledge", "bio-power" and locates the examination as a technology of government which produced scholastic identity as an individual attribute. 

Chapter 2 is concerned with the application of governmentality to the historical data. By setting a contextual background for the study, it provides a means of analysing the practices of the centralised system of state education which operated as a "pastoral bureaucracy". It identifies ways in which a "convenient" position was taken in the government of education.

Chapter 3 focuses on a particular dividing practice, the State Scholarship Examination and traces its emergence, transformations and its final discontinuity. It investigates this technology of government as a disciplinary practice of "gratification/punishment" and also considers its function in terms of bio-power as it was used to meet certain social and political ends.

Chapter 4 takes up Foucault's explanation of the human sciences and the production of the individual. It demonstrates how, in Queensland, an administrative need to deal with difference in the classroom precipitated the use of psychological tests. It also traces the shift of the psychological "gaze" to the "normal" population in testing programs for "vocational guidance" and considers the implications of the "Foucault paradox" for education.

Chapter 5 draws on a vision for "education of the 3Hs - the Head, the Heart and the Hand". Articulated in 1947 by the Director-General of Education, this idea approximates Rose's (1990) thesis of ways in which the school pupil as a young citizen becomes the object of government through strategies for "governing the soul". It identifies a union of pedagogy and psychology which has the effect of reshaping pedagogy. 

Chapter 6 is a history of the present beginning with a current policy initiative, the Performance Standards, and tracing a line of descent to a former state-wide program of standardised testing. By placing the past in the present, it critiques the "new" policy of government as text and discourse.

Chapter 7 summarizes the study and emphasizes the significance of the findings. It also acknowledges limitations and suggests areas for further research. Questions posed at the beginning of the study are answered by the research findings, indicating the efficacy of using past practices to undercut the legitimacy of present practices.

The study shows that the concerns of governmentality have changed over time. In the period 1945-1964, the needs of state-building were balanced out against an anti-intellectual and seemingly apathetic community which tolerated the State's neglect of education. In the present, the clamour for tertiary places reflects a compelling "truth" which has adjusted the desires and expectations of young people, and thus represents a different project of governmentality. However, the common thread is one of preparing a socially competent citizenry by the most convenient means, and the practices deployed for reaching such ends are shown to be limited. One program of testing is replaced by another. Whilst this can be interpreted as symptomatic of the congenital failure of assessment in education, the study positions these practices as achievements of government in securing social and political goals.
Keyword Education and state -- Queensland -- History.
Universities and colleges -- Queensland -- Entrance requirements.
Scholarships -- Queensland -- History.
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Document type: Thesis
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Created: Thu, 01 Oct 2009, 11:41:16 EST by Ms Christine Heslehurst on behalf of Social Sciences and Humanities Library Service